P.S.: It’s not my year for paper plates

I see a lot of people these days practicing gratitude – some as a daily practice and some for the month of November on Facebook.

Daily gratitude posts, along with the occasional puppy video and pictures of my grandson are the only things that have kept social media from morphing into the seventh circle of hell this year.

And since I don’t apparently feel thankful enough on a daily basis to make those posts I will do my whole month of gratitude right here, right now.

It is more important than ever, I believe, to turn toward acknowledging what is currently making our lives good.

Times like this – holidays like this – are specifically designed to make us stop and look up and find the victories in our beautiful lives and acknowledge them … with gratitude. And it’s probably even more important to do this if your life doesn’t feel so beautiful. Either way, remember the reason for the season, and that is giving gratitude.

Even if your family ain’t right.

I am thankful for a family that developed a tradition we have trademarked the “Annual Paper Plate Walk of Shame.” We are nothing if not tradition-filled as a family.

The big tradition is, if you jack up a dish you bring to Thanksgiving, the next year you will be the bearer of paper goods for the celebration.  It’s a beautiful and passive-aggressive tradition my entire family appreciates. It’s kind of like our less medieval version of the Scarlet Letter, only with way less pearl clutching and the letter is “C” for Chinet.

The precipitating event for this punishment of culinary indiscretion was exacted by a member of my own family who shall remain nameless … for now. This person (they know who they are) was in charge of one of our family’s Thanksgiving necessities – rolls, many and hot and with a lot of butter.

The suspect over-kneaded the rolls that year and what resulted was an impromptu war with tiny flying bread missiles after dinner. Later, the neighborhood kids used the rolls for a pickup game of street hockey.

That was the year paper shaming became a valued and time-honored tradition.

Since then, we’ve had cherry cream cheese pie with imaginary cherries; deviled eggs with questionable lineage; the near-disaster with the rolls of 2016;  and dryer-sheet fresh broccoli rice casserole. You read that right – somehow a dryer sheet ended up in a casserole a few years ago. It’s a mystery to this day, and now part of the legend of the tradition.

Everyone in our family pulled together last year when in an unheard of move where nobody was assigned the rolls and nobody noticed it until Thanksgiving Eve. Then we ALL noticed it and went shopping again and ended up with like 200 rolls. It was seriously like all our secret decoder rings went off and we sprung into action like the bread fiends we are.

In other words, we may not even have paper goods this year. But we better have rolls.

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Bread wins again, but love bats last

It was Thanksgiving Eve and I was in my fourth hour of a Sherlock Holmes bender – the good series, the ones with Benedict Cumberbatch – when it all went down.

The Hamilton Family Thanksgiving was in danger of crashing in on itself due to a lack of hot rolls.

It was 7:30 p.m. when I got the text message that my family was in crisis mode due to an unfortunate incident regarding the responsibility of securing the hot rolls for Thanksgiving dinner.                                                       

At Hamilton Family Thanksgivings, we take breaking bread pretty literally, eating a little bread with our butter. And we eat a lot of butter, so this was going to be a problem.


So good. So small. So necessary.

In one of the few socially-beneficial reasons to have Facebook, my family uses it like a freaking party line in times of crisis such as this, and we had three people in my family – three courageous souls with whom I share DNA – offer to brave the stores the night before Thanksgiving in search of rolls to feed our family’s legal addiction.

It’s times like this we find out how tight our family unit really is.

I mean, if it had been a Facebook message asking for help moving an ancient piano or selling elementary school fundraising cards, it might have been hours and possibly days before anyone answered.

It took seven seconds to get a response team to spring into action and save our family from the Great Hot Roll Famine of 2016.

Let that soak in.

Seven seconds before somebody in my family was willing to place themselves in harm’s way on Thanksgiving eve to make sure we had bread. That is love.

Love of bread.

Looking back, when I was little and my family played the game “Operation,” every single member of my family was proficient at removing the breadbasket without the tweezers touching the sides and making the red nose light up and buzz.  That’s the Hamilton family “no man left behind” mascot right there.

Don’t get me wrong, we love each other even more than we love bread but we use bread to dull the pain caused by family who cannot make it back home to Iowa Park. We stuff our feelings with bread. A lot of bread, with even more butter. Stuff, stuff, stuff those feelings.

And, even if everyone is present and accounted for, we still manage to find some feelings to stuff. I think most people can relate.

During this crisis and online negotiation toward a solution, I never said one word about it to my husband.

Why, you ask? Glad you asked, I say back.

The exact words out of his mouth would have been “You Hamiltons and your bread.”  And he would have been right.

Insatiable is a word I’ve heard thrown around in Olive Garden when we dine there together.

Never send my family to a restaurant where the words “Unlimited” and “Bread” appear on the same menu item, because my family will break your oven, and wear out three Parmesan cheese graters. And that’s in the first 5 minutes.

When I got to my Mom’s Thanksgiving day, I found out they panicked because they only had 30 rolls, and they knew that wouldn’t be enough for the 25 people  planning to attend. They were right.

But we didn’t run out of the gluten that holds our family together. Thanksgiving and the future of Weight Watchers was saved.

On Thanksgiving day, we gathered as a family and remembered all of our family members who couldn’t be with us because of geographical, but never heart, distance. And, we were genuinely thankful for our daily bread that almost wasn’t.

Bread wins again, but love bats last.

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It was a month before Christmas….

The past four days have been like an Advent calendar except when you open the little windows, crazy stuff pops out.


What my Advent Calendar would look like if I had one.

Day 1 – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving day brought everything it always promises: amazing food, laughter and gathering with a family I don’t see often enough even if we do live in the same county.

This Thanksgiving brought more than 20 members of my family together despite the near-hot-roll-famine of 2016 (that story is coming to a post near you, soon) and we continued with our tradition of Saint Francis of Assisi holding another Saint Francis of Assisi’s head in his basket for picture time.

It’s not as weird as it sounds, really, because at the rear of my childhood backyard is kind of a pet cemetery. (Okay, it is weird, but just go with it) My mother is a fan of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals (as if patron saints can even have a fan club) and when one of her dogs passed several years ago, Mom buried her back there and placed on her grave a Saint Francis statue. Years went by, and more beloved pets died and were buried back there as well, making it an official pet cemetery and giving us reason to appreciate the fact my mother usually chooses small dogs as pets.

Sadly, a few years ago Saint Francis of Assisi literally lost his head. I don’t know how but it was a kind of clean break. Mom didn’t have the heart to remove the original Saint Francis, who has sat with her sweet dog Brandy, (who had the most tremendous overbite for a poodle, by the way) all these years. So she propped the head of Saint Francis the First back on its original resting place, and bought a Saint Francis the Second for the days when the First just can’t keep his head on straight. The dogs always have a patron saint looking over them, and we are glad of this.

So glad that we’ve made a Thanksgiving tradition of placing Saint Francis the First’s head in Saint Francis the Second’s basket for photo time. And by we, I mean I was completely alone for most of this. I think everyone else is afraid of retribution, while I am hoping Saint Francis the First and Second have a healthy sense of humor. That is the battle cry of my life.


Saint Francis of Assisi One and Two

After my yearly photo shoots with Saint Francis One and Two, I returned home and fell into a three and a half hour stuffing coma. It was awesome.

Day 2 – Black Friday

I don’t participate in Black Friday beyond accidentally hearing about it on the news and all of the websites I forgot to cancel email notifications from.


Some would say that makes Kari a very dull and unadventurous girl. Others, mostly myself, say it’s what keeps me digging humanity. My steadfast denial to recognize that there are people in this world willing to mow you down for a ballerina Barbie the day after a holiday designated for thanks is the only thing that keeps my hope for mankind intact.

So, I don’t venture out. And not in that afraid I’ll have a psychotic episode way (ok, maybe just a little), but more in that “Oh, hell no.” way. It’s about self-care, really, and conscious denial.

So I did something I’ve been practicing for all year long. I did whatever I wanted, which was not too damn much.

After a long day of rest, I finally got my college football Friday evening when Texas Texas took on Baylor. It was perfection, because Tech won the game in a rare move for 2016. Happiness was mine. Also, I heard what is now my current favorite line in a TV commercial – “Intention is not the name of a perfume” – but I have no idea what it was advertising. That’s what I call a wasted line, and it makes me sad that something that brilliant is lost on a commercial for a forgettable product.

But the best was yet to come, and I didn’t even know it. After The Raider game, I alternated between reading a really good book and watching the Arizona vs. Arizona State football game. It was my Friday pay dirt.

Fortunately for me, I was watching when Miss Arizona USA was tackled as she stood on the sideline under the gaze of her loyal and captive subjects. She was hit hard, and I know it hurt. I know it hurt because I’ve been tackled while photographing a high school football game and it knocked my shoes off.

Here’s the crazy thing: She was wearing her crown, and it was large and in charge. Her crown was also knocked off, so I have something vaguely in common with Miss Arizona USA 2016. Thankfully, due to the  alchemy of her hairspray and bobby pins and a very astute handler, the tiara was back on her lovely nugget in less than a minute.


And yet another thing I am thankful for is this YouTube video of Miss Arizona taking one for the team:


They interviewed her afterward and she credited her background in kinesiology for helping her land properly. She gave no credit to what hairspray she was using, so I’m betting on Aqua Net.

She is still gonna hurt tomorrow, was my official diagnosis after the interview.

(Note: if anyone knows where those kind of heavy-duty-yet-classy crowns come from, let me know. I’m accident prone and need one that is good in all situations.)

Saturday, the day after Black Friday

My husband woke up Saturday morning with the flu. (Note to self: call the family we were dining with Thursday) Nobody ever clued me in that this was an Advent calendar option, but here we are – me and him, separated by a wall of Lysol fumes.

I rarely cook anymore, because Bobby does all the cooking. But I did Saturday because I will admit it here – I am addicted to food. (This is always the first step with an addiction, now I need to remember who I have harmed because of my hunger).


With Bobby in the bed, I was responsible for hunting and gathering my own food and my body went into survival mode when I realized he wouldn’t be cooking supper. This made me hungry all day. I made stew and what might be remembered in history as the worst cornbread ever made from a package mix.


While I was slicing and dicing and making horrid cornbread, I also watched college football under the false pretense that it was beauty queen weekend across the United States. It was not in Ohio or Alabama, from what I could tell.
However, Ohio beat Michigan in double-overtime, and I learned some things about myself during that game. I found out when the camera trained in on Michigan’s head football coach Harbaugh after his team threw their third interception that I can read lips. All of them. I also learned that Harbaugh and I could hang. We know the same words.


Harbaugh, speaking my language

I ate stew and spit out cornbread during the Alabama-Auburn game. Although it is a big rivalry game (there should have been Miss Alabama USA there somewhere), there wasn’t much tension since Alabama kind of owns college football right now. So I did what I do best and noticed stuff like cheerleader bows, names and twirlers.

All I can report is that cheerleaders (all over the nation, not just Alabama) still wear huge candy box bows on top of their ponytails that remind me of show poodles. ‘Bama’s quarterback’s last name is “Hurts”, which I think is a great omen; and I noticed that Alabama’s twirling section outnumbers most Texas high school football teams. I didn’t even know twirling was still a thing.

My sister was a twirler in high school and at homecoming 40 years ago, she would twirl with fire. They would wrap the ends of their batons in some cloth, dip it in something flammable and light them on fire while the stadium lights were lowered and twirl to something spectacular being played by the Iowa Park High School Mean Green Marching Machine. It was magic.

I think if the Alabama twirling squad attempted that, hairspray fumes among the ranks would cause a blow-torch effect and then Miss Alabama USA wouldn’t be allowed to even come to the game because of safety concerns.

Sunday, the day before I go back to work to face the Christmas season

This morning I woke up to a dog barfing in her kennel, and a husband who still reminds me of someone who would finish his will if only he had the strength to hold a pen. The flu has hit hard, y’all.

After a pot of coffee and copius amounts of cleanup, I have braved the grocery store and forgotten for the third day in a row to do one thing to look presentable.

It is one o’clock and I’m back in my sweats with no bra in sight and plans for a four-hour power nap.

I hope your Thanksgiving, like mine, reminded you of the beautiful things you are thankful for; that if you did venture out on Black Friday you returned home uninjured physically and emotionally and with every item you wanted at 75% off; and that your weekend has been spent on radical self-care. December is truly just around the corner.

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Giving thanks in a year that will be remembered as one to forget

We are nearing the end of the month of thankfulness, as if there is a season designated specifically for that.

Still, social media is full of people giving their daily lists of all the things they are thankful for, and I read them all.

It is not at all disingenuous, to take the time every day to remind ourselves what we’re thankful for at a time when I and many others I know feel like 2016 will be remembered as one to forget.

I don’t participate in social media’s daily thankfulness because 1) I’m very undependable in that area; and 2) sometimes it’s just nobody’s business what I’m thankful for and would just clue you into my neurosis that you always suspected but have now confirmed.

Why 2016 has sucked for me is probably no different in essence than why it sucked for many people, which is what connects us all. But seriously, 2016 –  Bye, Felicia.

Two years ago, for Christmas, my son bought for me a five year diary that has just a few lines a day to write in. The same days each year are stacked atop the later ones for comparison, I suppose. I made, and kept,  a commitment to write in it daily.

As I said earlier, the past year has not been a fun one for me. Where I used to just write in that journal the mundane bull to remind myself that some things don’t change, I began to remind myself of what I was thankful for.

Sometimes it is easy-breezy. That’s when I know it is a good day. Other days, it appears I have scrawled something desperately hopeful on the page to continue in my glass-is-better-than-half-full mentality, even if it was statistically unlikely the glass was even moist. It has become a daily practice.

What is written within those pages are, for the most part, nobody’s business. But what re-appears daily, is something I don’t mind sharing and something I think I have in common with many of you and Thanksgiving is a good time to mention it.

Group of people hugging outdoors; sunset

I am thankful every day for family and friends – and by family, I mean my beautiful and natural dysfunctional one, as well as my in-laws who accept this outlaw, and those I have chosen and been chosen by as sisters. There are many of those.

Every one of you have made days bearable, and made me laugh until the tears could do nothing but run down my leg.

I can only hope I have returned the favor and unconditional love in some way to someone else.

You have helped me survive and reminded me that no matter what, life is meant to be lived – and with immense joy.

And without a doubt, I am thankful for everyone who reads what I write and indulges this thing I love.

I hope on this day of thanks we all recognize those people and things that make our life wonderful and richer.

Blessings to each of you.

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You may leave my underwear out of this

Grant Triplow.

Today I’m going to talk about underwear, so if it makes you uncomfortable this is your chance to stop reading.

I’m looking at you, husband.

Everybody has a sacred cow and other things people shouldn’t jack with. Mine, I found out recently  during a seemingly innocuous conversation, seems to be my panties (also known as underwear, unmentionables or skivvies.)

My son, Tom, who lives in Boston, told me that the pay-per-load washer and dryer in the basement of the house he rents was out of order during the entire month of December.

This made it necessary for Tom to find alternative means of washing his wardrobe, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you live in Boston and use public transportation.

Being a mother, I’m pretty sure it crossed my mind to have him ship his dirty clothes to me, which I would ship back all clean and folded. Then I’m pretty sure I remembered that I hate doing laundry, so the offer was never made.

Not to worry, he told me he was walking his dirty clothes to a laundry that charges $1 a pound to do what I’m not willing to do for free.

Suddenly, I’m wondering if we have one of these amazing services in this area, which I’m sure we don’t because I have begun to believe that only Boston has the stuff I think I should not have to  live without like huge unicorn statues on public buildings and pizza that taste like it was ordained by God.


That is a large unicorn you see on the top right of that fine building.

The next part of our conversation went like this:

Tom: It’s a pain in the butt, but it works.

Me: I’m glad you’ve got a laundry in walking distance and all, but tell me this . . . even the underwear?

Tom: Especially the underwear.

Me: WHAT? Just go ahead and make me grab my diaries and throw ‘em on the table at Thanksgiving . . . That’s how exposed I would feel.

(Sidenote: I’m afraid me and a bottle of Woolite would have date night once a week before I would farm out my unmentionables to a laundry service.)

Tom: It’s just underwear, Mom.

Me: Says you, sir.

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You have the right to pursue happiness. Be thankful for the guts to catch it.

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” -Benjamin Franklin


mister pollo

Happy and sexy Thanksgiving to y’all

 I don’t participate in the daily gratitude  disclosure on social media, mostly because I don’t like being told what to do. (Although my legs and I have been participating in the nation-wide No Shave November, even though it’s supposed to be only for men and their faces. I’m a lazy rebel in that way, I suppose.)

Also, I tend to dump all of my words at once, so that I don’t have to think of something every single day, because I know I’m gonna have a bad day in November and break the invisible cycle. Nobody wants that, so I’m going to do it all right here, all at once.

I’m eternally thankful my bathroom scale doesn’t hate me, because Thanksgiving is the very worst day to be my pants, and the day after is the worst day to be my scales.

My pants typically hold a grudge about having to compete with turkey, dressing and a liter of gravy for the real estate known as my waist. But my scale just stays behind my bathroom door and waits for me to come back when the time is right, usually around April.

I’m thankful it’s not illegal to dance in my car, or I would be writing this from jail. The law frowns on repeat offenders, as well as not keeping your hands at at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel.

I’m thankful I live and work among people who value humor, encourage independent thinking and understand my aversion to the Wizard of Oz and the texture of satin sheets. In other words, I have a lot of gratitude for those who let me pursue and catch my happiness no matter how it’s defined.

And, I’m thankful for saltine crackers because they cure all kinds of ills.

By the time you read this, I will be surrounded by my children, laughing and giving an extra silent thanks this holiday requires.

I’m genuinely thankful for my children every day, but something about the holidays and them living in faraway cities gives me cause to feel a little extra gratitude because their geographical location no longer allows me to take their presence at every holiday for granted.

I won’t be taking their presence for granted Thursday when we eat far too much, play innocent board games with the aggression of Roman soldiers and sing Minnie Ripperton’s Lovin’ You in remembrance of my Dad. Thanksgiving at the Hamilton House is always the very best.

So there you have it – my gratitude in a multi-paragraph nutshell.

Please, pursue your happiness. Then catch it and share it.

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